Listening to old Genesis albums on Spotify is a good way of reminding oneself that simple things, done well, rarely disappoint. There wasn’t an enormous amount of complexity in Genesis’ soft 1970’s rock, but every musician (yes, even Phil Collins, doyen of French Europop radio) was packed with talent and, if the quality of the anthemic melodies are anything to go by, spent many hours learning their craft. And yet, whilst Trick of the Tail, for example, sounds like it is mixed on old chipped plates and rusty frying pans, and the electronic keyboards were played inside an old Heinz Beans can, it has stood the test of time simply because the ingredients are first class, and orchestrated with skill and care. You sometimes feel concern for the band’s collective mental health, but only in an English eccentric perfectionist sort of way.
It’s difficult to make a case against buying wine from Majestic, especially when you can source wines like this 2004 Reserva from only £12.99.
Cune (a.k.a. CVNE) Rioja is a pretty good marque to look out for, should you decide to scour this historic wine region of northern Spain. But the food match I’m going to recommend might surprise you.
Rich and spicy with an attractive, but rough, edge. In musical terms, a Victoria Beckham wine.
Tastewise, imagine biting into an olive and finding a pimiento, only substitute a plum and a beetroot respectively.
I last visited this southern Rhone appellation in 2010, a scorching summer as I recall, so no surprise that this wine, from the same year, is as Hot as Chocolate, Earthier than Kitt, and more tannic than a cup of tea drunk in a tannery…
From Domaine Collet et fils comes this interesting Chablis, 1er Cru Vaillons “Sécher”. 2009 RRP £21.
Wowzers, I thought Chablis was supposed to be steely, flinty, dry and crisp. This is smooth and buttery honey albeit with an appealing apple sourness.
The normally reliable Wine Searcher iPhone app couldn’t locate a British stockist but I understand it’s available from posh importer, Marc Fine Wines, living up to their claim that they service the on-trade with wines that can’t be sourced elsewhere in the UK. I hope you stumble across it at your local restaurant.
If you do, it’s probably better paired with cheese or chicken than shellfish. Les bourgognes recommend drinking at 10-11 degrees, so ignore restaurant advice,and take it out of the ice bucket if it is served straight from the blast chiller.
Buying wine for laying down is fraught with problems. Aside from the financial investment, and whether it would have actually been cheaper to buy that 1990 claret when you wanted to drink it, rather than cellar it away for 25 years in the hope it’s not oxidised or corked, the storage is a bit of a pain. Also, not all wines age well. In fact, very few should be drunk more than 5 years or so after the vintage date.
I’ve found this out to my cost in a recent exploration and dredging of the nether regions of my wine rack and combine harvester. Over a period of at least four weeks, every alternate bottle has been used to clean the sink rather than rinse my liver. An expensive mistake.
There have been some pleasant surprises. For example, a 2002 Labouré-Roi Meursault tasted of fresh pineapple and lemon despite a recommended drink-by date of 2008.
Posh lifestyle website, www.amara.co.uk contacted me to ask what I thought of Riedel glasses. I’m a massive fan and already own most of the Vinum range.
“What about wine accessories then?” I have tried most gadgets thanks very much.
“OK, then have you heard of a wine developer?” Er, no, that’s a new one, can you mail one over? I received a text the next day. Apparently my driver (Dave) was to deliver the item between 17:31 and 18:31 on the 13th. A simple number texted back and Dave would divert and come back another day. Why can’t more online retailers be so accurate and so flexible with delivery times?
Browsing the Amara website is not a thing to do with an Amex Black Card in your hands, despite the fact that I found three Bugattis for sale that even I could afford. But if you are a wino, or foodie, or want to buy a present for the decadent one in your life, it is a place to look for all sorts of luxury items. A set of excellent Wüsthof chef’s knives at £368 is about RRP. I have a set already after re-mortgaging and visiting a top end kitchen equipment shop in Leeds.
Amara’s Riedel stemware is at the top end of the range of prices you will find online. Nothing is cheap. It would be disappointing if it was. This is a luxury website bravely punting the oenological or epicurean equivalent of meteor strike insurance.
But, if London property and restaurant prices continue to hold up at such levels, and if this marriage trend takes off, the website has a market and it would be nice to see it succeed.
As for the ‘Developer’, a device from l’Atelier du Vin, the concept is brilliant. A combination of the theory that H2S can be reduced through contact with metal, and the well trodden advantages of aerating wine before drinking, it’s a carved ball bearing that you slip into the neck of your decanter before transferring the wine. I’d like to think it works, but sadly it doesn’t fit any of my decanters.
Oh well, perhaps I’ll get that credit card out and browse the Amara website….
A sunny Sunday in New York means one thing, a walk along the Highline. Well, maybe two: brunch at Standard Grill. But what about Sunday lunch/dinner? Where would you suggest? What is the third “must do” thing on an epicurian’s or wino’s agenda? One recommendation landed in my Twitter timeline, the sister of Gramercy Tavern. Can you guess what happened next?
A few tweets later and I’m booked in for a lazy and late lunch. To be served super food by extremely friendly staff.
One great example of the food, Blood Clams, were raw with a Bloody Mary poured in. A rare example of when shellfish goes with red wine. My choice of Long Meadow Ranch was apparently so insightful, it warranted a special inquiry (note the American spelling there) from the Sommelier. “Oh, I figured you must be a wino to order that”.
In fact, Californian wines are only just making it onto my bucket list. Frog’s Leap and Ridge being two examples. LMR is not far behind.
The interior design is funky and cool, the staff are brill, the food is inventive, fun and tasty, and you can get drunk on interesting, or expensive vino. What’s not to like?
Union Square Café
21 E 16th St
(between W Union Sq & 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10003
T: +1 (212) 243-4020
Announce an ‘extra special’ range of wines and then charge a mere £5-6 per bottle. That has Walmart strategy stamped all over it.
Trouble is, Asda has never been at the top of my wine shopping venues. In fact it’s been near the bottom.
Add the fact that Gavi rarely floats my boat and this is a recipe for disaster.
But somehow Asda has found a supplier (Araldica) that can produce a lively, fruity and zesty Gavi that is simply gorgeous for the price (£5.98) and at a very refreshing 12% ABV.
Pour into a Chardonnay glass, but chill the wine a little cooler, say 8 degrees. Then serve with fresh char-grilled English asparagus. What joy. Highly recommended.
Been to Hanging Ditch? If you live anywhere near Manchester, and you are any sort of wino, you will already know it is the funkiest wine shop/bar inside the M60, if not in England. I’ve been meaning to mention a couple of wines I bought there recently. I was slurping some nice sherry (a dry Oloroso if you must know) and bemoaning the lack of good value Albariño, the white grape from Galicia, in the UK. Much of it is interesting, even delicious, but at a price that puts it out of the reach of casual Saturday night winos. So, Mark suggested I try this Godello, an even more obscure grape that Galicia mothers.
Still £12.50, which is beyond cheap and cheerful. It’s a simple wine with simple flavours of pink grapefruit and stewed apples. Simple like a well cooked omelette aux fines herbes. Still delicious. Just a little obscure.
And the cult status maybe the point of drinking Godello right now. It’s a bit like listening to The Raincoats on Spotify. Whilst you are sure someone else out there is doing it, you are very unlikely to know them. And that makes you enjoy it all the more.
£17.99 is a lot to spend on any bottle. For a Chilean wine, this is like spending £20 on a burger. It better be bloody, and it better be bloody brilliant.
This De Martino is a field blend and, at 13.5%, sensibly low in alcohol for a Chilean red. Predominately Malbec with a fair bit of Carménère and other grapes chipped in from various corners of the field, it tastes of rich smooth chocolate, red apples and glacé cherries with pepper. I know what you are thinking and no, it’s a compliment.